AMD’s 890FX Chipset: An Evolution for the AM3 Platform

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: April 26, 2010
Product Name: AMD 890FX Chipset
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When AMD’s Phenom processors were first released, they didn’t quite live up to the hype surrounding them but the mistakes that were made in the first generation products were soon fixed. The newly-revamped quad core processors –dubbed Phenom II- were soon followed by a long list of tri and dual core derivatives that competed quite well with Intel’s offerings on a price / performance level. However, AMD has still not been able to catch the lead horse in the high-end, enthusiast range of the spectrum and many of their chips have been relegated to the status of budgetary solutions to competing Intel products. In the next few months, we may see that gap widen as AMD gradually transitions towards their Thuban six core processors before jumping to a new architecture in the future. As the processor technology evolved, AMD realized their older 700-series AM2+ / AM3 boards needed a bit of a refresh and has now introduced the 800-series.

Back at the beginning of March, AMD released the first of its 800-series chipsets; the 890GX. Motherboards based on it target consumers who are looking for a budget-conscious product with decent integrated graphics along with a broad list of features from native SATA 6GB/s to Crossfire compatibility to 8x / 8x Crossfire support. In our own testing we have found these sub-$150 boards to have surprisingly decent overclocking capabilities as well. However, many enthusiasts are looking for something more than a basic motherboard and want a robust PWM design for overclocking, dual 16x PCI-E lanes for high-end graphics cards and other high-end features. For these more demanding customers, AMD is releasing their 890FX chipset which will be used in flagship motherboards from literally every manufacturer.

The 890FX itself follows closely in the footsteps of the outgoing yet still well respected 790FX and indeed, its specifications are nearly identical to those of the older generation. Nonetheless, with the transition from the Dragon platform to the newly named Leo combination we won’t see a significant jump in price which means that motherboards sporting the 890FX chipset likely won’t retail for more than a lower-end X58 product from Intel’s side of the fence. This translates into the possibility of equipping yourself with one of AMD’s 6-core processors along with a 890FX motherboard for less than a single Intel i7 960. If that doesn’t tempt you, we don’t know what would.

In this somewhat brief article we will be taking a quick look at what the 89-0FX brings to the table in terms of technology and staying power. ASUS and Gigabyte have sent boards as well so while the reviews will be posted in the coming weeks, we’ll also give you a quick look at what the 890FXA-UD7 and Crossfire IV will be bringing to the table.


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